Black Rock City, Summer 2005. Increased population at Burning Man always brings new issues to the playa. Concerns about creating a common understanding about sexual boundaries, and fostering an environment free of harassment or assault, have led some concerned participants to band together to create a group known as the Bureau of Erotic Discourse (BED). The BED's goal is to address the need for education around acceptable behaviors relating to sexual advances, negotiating consensual experiences, dance floor behavior, touching, and any potential for sexual predation in an erotically charged environment.
We all appreciate the freedom with which we can move about Black Rock City - sometimes, in various stages of costumed dress or undress -- with no need to fear for bodily or psychological harm. In order for this environment to succeed and continue to thrive, it is important for every burner to understand that this expressive freedom does not supersede the need to respect and honor the boundaries of others. Feeling like you can't express yourself well when it comes to sexual advances - wanted, or unwanted? Wishing you had new ways to approach potential partners? Need something else in your relationship, but don't know how to ask for it? Have you seen someone behaving inappropriately toward others, but don't know how to deal with it? The BED is here to help.
The BED is a grass-roots organization formed to help reduce occurrences of sexual assault and harassment on the playa through education, outreach, and entertainment. We will educate Burning Man participants about the resources available to them in the event of unwanted physical contact: the Rangers, Emergency Services Department, and others. Such resources can address needs for counsel and/or medical attention, and BED will act as a liaison to assist with locating and utilizing those resources. We will also provide workshops, playshops, educational parties and discussions, and other educational resources, such as the production of interactive theater and role-playing, and will perform on-site interventions to combat "yahooism" and unwanted behavior. The BED also wants to connect those who may have experienced sexual assault in the past to healers and counselors, on playa and off.
The BED believes that unacceptable sexual behavior in a social situation frequently stems from a lack of social skills or awareness of the protocols and attitudes toward sexuality at Burning Man. We hope to address these issues with education, and a sex-positive attitude. Our goal is to spread information about how we treat each other in Black Rock City - with communication and respect for the boundaries and freedom of every man and woman at the event.
You can help - get the word out! BED also provides training for anyone interested in helping to protect the social environment in Black Rock City. We will coordinate volunteers to be at events and on the streets, to visit camps and dance parties, and observe and interact with participants everywhere to help non-violently combat any anti-social behavior that might jeopardize the atmosphere of freedom we enjoy at Burning Man. An important method of education is reaching out to those who may be crossing boundaries publicly and let them know that predatory behavior will not be tolerated. We will work closely with Rangers to interact with the public on this level. If you would like to participate in this effort, bring a funky pink hat and join the BED Hat Brigade.
Workshops: come to one of our "playshops" and learn how to get what you want without crossing the boundaries of others! With consent and respectful negotiation, almost anything is possible. Women - empower yourselves to be clear, and if you find yourself in a situation where you wish you had a friend to walk you home, or you just need someone to talk to, look for one of us in our big funky pink hats, and we will be happy to help.
Help ensure that Burning Man continues to be a safe environment for all forms of self-expression!